Divination, in the simplest of terms, is the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means.. In magick, you do not always need the spend money on things such as crystal balls, wands, or anything of the sort. The most useful things to your practice should come from nature herself. (The bare necessities of life will come to you.) In this case, the use of the element of fire can be just as useful as using expensive equipment.
Fire was considered to be the most spiritual of the elements, not only because of its light giving quality, but because the use of fire is one of the things which most markedly distinguishes man from the beasts. Dancing around a ritual bonfire may well be mans most primitive ceremony. Seeing pictures in the fire was one of his earliest sources of clairvoyant vision, when the tribal groups huddled together in the darkness of the caves.
In Europe, the mysterious fraternity of the Rosicrucians were sometimes called Philosophi per ignem , the fire-philosophers. This is because fire to them was the symbol of transmutation. The substance of the candle becomes transmuted by burning and changes into light. By their beliefs and practices, the occult philosophers of old sought to transmute that which was base into something better, to attain illumination and enlightenment. Their motto: Igne Natura renovator integra , All Nature is renewed by fire.
To this day, there is an old countryside belief in Somerset that leaping flames talk, and if you listen to them at the right moment, they will tell you your future. The technical name for this is pyromancy, divination by fire.
If you are fortunate enough to find yourself around an open fire (be it around a bonfire or a warm fireplace), here is a brief description of how to interpret the pictures you may see in the glowing coals.
Seat yourself on the rug in front of the fire, with the lights in the room turned low. Throw a handful of kitchen salt on the coals and wait until the fire is glowing clear. If other people are in the room, they must remain silent. Concentration is essential. (If you are outside at night, its best to seat yourself as comfortably in front of the fire and be as far away from civilization as possible. If you are with a group of people, again, silence is important.)
Much depends on how a particular symbol or picture looks. Is it glowing and cheerful, or dark and sinister? If what you see is pleasing to the eye, it is a sign of good fortune. But if, for instance, you see a gallows, a skull and crossed bones, or a ruined, broken down house, these are warnings of danger.
- A nice house or castle, especially standing on steps that lead towards it, is a sign of prosperity.
- Trees stand for success and happiness.
- Flowers and fruit, however, mean worries and grief.
- Domestic animals, such as cats and dogs, mean friendly encounters.
- Snarling, vicious animals suggest that you have an enemy.
- Farm animals, such as sheep or cows, are generally lucky and mean an increase in money.
- Wild animals mean news from afar.
- A horse means a journey awaits.
- Ships or airplanes also suggest a journey, possibly overseas.
- Flying birds mean letters are on the way.
- A horseshoe means excellent good luck.
- Bells mean news of a wedding.
- A cradle means news of birth.
- A familiar face or the face of a stranger, mean one of two things. If the face is bright, your encounter will be fortunate. If it is dark and shadowy, be on your guard.
- An outstretched hand means that someone you know is in trouble and is in need of help.
- A dagger or gun means quarrels are threatening.
- The appearance of a bright, glowing pillar, or pillars, upholding an arch, means a love-affair.
- A windmill, a wheel, or anything that turns, mean change, either for better or worse depending if the picture is light or dark.
**Most of these omens can be easily interpreted by their natural associations.**
(Disclaimer: Most of this is quoted from Doreen Valiente's Natural Magic, 1975. I take no credit for any of the information here.)